The Montreal Alouettes wins late in the season give them hope for the future. The Alouettes won two games in a row for the first time this season against the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Calgary Stampeders. Montreal could take the faith from interim head coach Jacques Chapdelaine‘s 3-2 record as optimism moving forward.
Alouettes Wins Late in Season Give Hope
Winning on the road against a Riders team with a four-game win streak was big last week. But ending the Stampeders 14-game win streak and a bid at the best regular season record in history was huge for the Alouettes. They put out a complete team effort, an aspect that lacked for the majority of the season.
The Alouettes offence was, more often than not, the Achilles heel of the team. Arguments transpired between players, frustration mounted and results were scarce. Because of the lack of cohesion, they sit in last or second-to-last in most offensive categories, including the least amount of time of possession. Their inability to prolong drives negatively impacted the defence. Heading into the fourth quarters of most games, the Alouettes were still in it, but defensive fatigue put the games out of reach
Montreal completely changed their offence in the last two Alouettes wins. Vernon Adams Jr. was the starting quarterback with players like Tiquan Underwood, Marcus Henry and B.J. Cunningham as his receivers. A big difference from Week 1 when Kevin Glenn started with Duron Carter, Kenny Stafford and S.J. Green. This change produced positive results, with a glimpse of what the future may hold.
In their 19-14 win in Saskatchewan, Adams did not have the best game in a rainy mess at Mosaic Stadium, going 11/24 for 177 yards with a touchdown and an interception – but he fit into the new offence well. Adams connected with six different receivers on the day, including finding Henry in the endzone for his only catch.
Adams had a good start this week at home against the Stamps, but left in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury. Up to that point, he went 11/14 for 106 yards. Most importantly, Adams left the game with a 7-5 lead over the league’s best team.
Rakeem Cato stepped in and didn’t miss a beat. He airmailed a 37-yard touchdown pass to Underwood on his second play, and ran 73 yards to the redzone two drives later. He finished the game with 7/11 completed passes for 113 yards and the lone TD.
The fact that both young quarterbacks were able to pick apart the Stamps defence like that shows a lot. The offence has fluidity under Chapdelaine, the former offensive coordinator before his promotion. There is less blemishes and miscommunication between the players and staff, and the attack is made up of players who earned their job.
Henry and Underwood, both of whom have experience in the CFL and NFL, started with the team on the practice roster. They earned their way up and could be cornerstones for the offence in the foreseeable future. Cunningham was also in that situation a year ago, and he has skyrocketed his value into one of the better receivers on the team.
The only problem the Alouttes have is a good one. With both Cato and Adams playing well, management will have to decide who their quarterback of the future is. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Leadership by Example
Much of the credit to the sudden rebound has to go to the head coach and to the veterans on the team. For a team with a losing record, it’s tough as a player and coach. It’s even tougher when there’s a coaching change after Week 14. But Chapdelaine, and other leaders, particularly Nik Lewis, have done a fantastic job to give Chapdelaine a winning record.
Chapdelaine brings stability and a know-how to the team that Jim Popp did not have. Will he be the next head coach of the Montreal Alouettes? Maybe not. But if he is, these Alouettes wins are a great start for him and the team.
Lewis is a receiver who leads by example. He’s paving the way for the young receivers coming up, and giving confidence to his young QBs with speculator catches. He’s the team’s leading receiver with over 1,000 yards, and has averaged 65 yards a game under Chapdelaine. He rarely drops balls and he’s a safe target on which the quarterbacks could rely. His future with the team remains up in the air, but others are learning a lot from him.
These three Alouettes wins in five games under Chapdelaine represent a small portion of a long season. The Alouettes cannot conclude anything from them. But with the way Adams and Cato connected with their new receivers, it represents some hope for the future. And the Alouettes have had some hope turn into false hope recently – they could finish with the same amount of points as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and miss the playoffs because a tiebreaker, and the crossover rule.